“We have reached agreement on a strong draft with the cooperation of both Russia and China. We plan to circulate that draft resolution to the entire Security Council today. And let me say, Mr. Chairman, I think this announcement is as convincing an answer to the efforts undertaken in Tehran over the last few days as any we could provide.”
UPDATE 1745 GMT: The US Government has now made its formal response to the Tehran agreement. It's little more than a "hold the line" statement, issued by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. It gives no clue as to whether Washington was supportive of the Brazilian-Turkish mediation; instead it sets the next challenge: let's see the proposal go to the International Atomic Energy Agency and, possibly, let's see Iran suspend its unilateral push for 20-percent uranium:
We acknowledge the efforts that have been made by Turkey and Brazil. The proposal announced in Tehran must now be conveyed clearly and authoritatively to the IAEA before it can be considered by the international community. Given Iran’s repeated failure to live up to its own commitments, and the need to address fundamental issues related to Iran’s nuclear program, the United States and international community continue to have serious concerns. While it would be a positive step for Iran to transfer low-enriched uranium off of its soil as it agreed to do last October, Iran said today that it would continue its 20% enrichment, which is a direct violation of UN Security Council resolutions and which the Iranian government originally justified by pointing to the need for fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. Furthermore, the Joint Declaration issued in Tehran is vague about Iran’s willingness to meet with the P5+1 countries to address international concerns about its nuclear program, as it also agreed to do last October.
The United States will continue to work with our international partners, and through the United Nations Security Council, to make it clear to the Iranian government that it must demonstrate through deeds –-- and not simply words –-- its willingness to live up to international obligations or face consequences, including sanctions. Iran must take the steps necessary to assure the international community that its nuclear program is intended exclusively for peaceful purposes, including by complying with U.N. Security Council resolutions and cooperating fully with the IAEA. We remain committed to a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear program, as part of the P5+1 dual track approach, and will be consulting closely with our partners on these developments going forward.
The European Union and Britain have put out similar statements.
UPDATE 1245 GMT: A group of Iranian political activists have declared that today’s uranium agreement, from a “political and economic” stance, is in the interest of the Iranian nation.
Mohammad Bastehnegar, Ezzatollah Sahabi, Taghii Rahmani, Hosein Rafii, Reza Raistoosi, Hossein ShahHosseini, Azam Taleghani, Reza Alijani, and Nezameddin Ghahari asserted that the agreement could end economic sanctions against Iran and lead to “transparency” in Iran’s relationship with the world.
The statement calls for collaboration of both conservative and reformist political activists in supporting this government initiative.
UPDATE 1110 GMT: Trita Parsi gets to the heart of why this arrangement was struck when last October's very similar deal, which reached top-table discussions in Geneva between Iran, the US, and other powers, collapsed. He notes talks between Brazil's Lula and the Supreme Leader: "This is no longer Ahmadinejad's nuclear deal, this is Khamenei's nuclear deal."
UPDATE 1015 GMT: Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has offered more details of the proposed uranium swap at a press conference. From Press TV:
Iran will ask the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] to station its personnel in Turkey to monitor the safe-keeping of the dispatched LEU [Tehran's 1200 kilogrammes low-enriched uranium]....The top diplomat underlined Iran will inform the IAEA of its decision "through official channels" within no more than seven days from the Monday meeting.
"Upon the positive response of the Vienna Group --- which includes Russia, France, the United States and the IAEA --- further details of the exchange will be elaborated through a written agreement and proper arrangement between Iran and the Vienna group that specifically committed themselves to deliver 120 cages of fuel needed for the Tehran research reactor (TRR)," noted Mottaki.
If the Vienna Group accepts Iran's terms and conditions, Mottaki said, both parties will "commit themselves to the implementation" of the deal, which requires Iran to deposit its LEU in Turkey within one month, and in return, the Vienna group will deliver 120 kg of fuel required for the Tehran reactor in no later than one year.
UPDATE 0755 GMT: How big is this story for Iranian state media? Islamic Republic News Agency, noting that "Ahmadinejad raised his hands in victory", devotes 6 of its top 9 stories to the agreement. (Fars, on the other hand, has not stepped into line: its top story is on British Foreign Secretary William Hague speaking about the assassination of a Hamas official in Dubai.)
UPDATE 0645 GMT: The Iran-Brazil-Turkey agreement is for a swap of uranium outside Iran, and just as signficant, it involves the 1200 kilogrammes of Tehran's stock that the US and "Western" countries were seeking last autumn.
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Monday that the Tehran government has agreed to a draft proposal whereby Iran will send some 1200 kg of its 3.5 percent enriched uranium over to Turkey in exchange for a total of 120 kg 20 percent....
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will officially receive a letter with regards to the swap deal "within a week".
According to a Press TV correspondent, the swap will take place nearly a month after receiving official approval from the Vienna Group, which consists of representatives from Iran, France, Russia and the US and the IAEA.
Now watch carefully for the reaction from Washington. If it is favourable, even cautiously favourable, we've got a major breakthrough.
The dominant story in both Iranian and non-Iranian media today is likely to be the announcement between Iran, Brazil, and Turkey of an agreed procedure for a deal on enrichment of Iran's uranium.
No details will be available until later today, so significant questions remain. It is not clear whether Tehran has given any way to the essential demand of the US and other members of the "5+1" (UK, France, Germany, Russia, China) for a swap of uranium outside Iran. Politically, Washington's position --- has it privately supported the Brazilian and Turkish discussions? --- is murky.
The seriousness of the talks, however, is indicated not only by their 17-hour duration on Sunday but also by the level of involvement. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's postponement on Friday of his trip to Iran did not, in the end, mean that Turkey had withdrawn altogether. Rather, this seems to have been a case of wait-and-see: Turkish "ministers" were involved throughout Sunday: once it was clear that an agreement was possible, Erdogan reversed his position and flew to Tehran, joining Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
The core issue is how Iran's 3.5-percent uranium will be exchanged for 20-percent uranium, needed for the Tehran Research Reactor producing medical isotopes.